• Join us at COP26 for our forum on saving Africa’s Congo Basin rainforests, people and biodiversity

    20 October 2021
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    Saving Africa’s Congo Basin Rainforests, People and Biodiversity: An Interactive Forum on Civil Society led forest and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement Actions, Learning and Priorities for the Struggle Ahead


    This event took place on 11 November 2021. Here are the key resources:

    Read our latest blog post – CIDT @ COP 26 – seeking a fair deal for the Congo Basin forests to find out more about COP and its importance, as well as our what has bought us to this event. 


    Congo Basin forests are of global importance. Unfortunately, these forests are under severe threats from unsustainable human activities accelerating illegal deforestation, conversion, wildlife poaching and loss of livelihoods of indigenous peoples. With support from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), CIDT, University of Wolverhampton has strengthened the role of Congo Basin Civil Society actors as environmental defenders and monitors of illegal deforestation and wildlife trafficking over the last decade; generating evidence for stronger law enforcement and sustainable management of forests and wildlife. We are proposing a panel discussion during COP 26 which will provide a unique opportunity for three representatives from Cameroon, Republic of Congo and Gabon to engage face-to-face with the live audience (in French with simultaneous translation) their first hand experiences of tropical forest and biodiversity loss and their tactics to counter illegal deforestation and wildlife trafficking in the region*. These regional experts will be complimented by a panel of international experts on independent forest and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement from CIDT and other international organisations (TBC).

    The aim of the panel discussion to be hosted in the COMIFAC pavilion (specify location) is to present and critique the role of independent forest and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement by civil society as a key tool for fighting illegal deforestation and biodiversity loss while highlighting its contributions to climate change. Panellists will share Central African experience and recommendations to stimulate debate and improved understanding of the realistic options for the Congo Basin. The panel session will target government officials, donor agencies, private sector, NGOs, Biodiversity Conservationists, etc.

    Agenda for the panel discussion

    • Introduction: The Head of CIDT, Professor Philip Dearden will faciliate the panel discussions. The panellists will be introduced together with a brief overview of IFM and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement while showcasing FCDO and other funding partners’ support to its development in the past decade (5 mins).
    • Part 1 – experience from the last decade: This will be followed by three fast moving 10 minute presentations by our expert Congo Basin civil society partners or international experts on the theme of ‘Independent Forest and wildlife Monitoring and law enforcement’ case studies. Experience from the last decade will be drawn and presented from Congo, Gabon and Cameroon. (30 mins).
    • Audience questions to the panel: Facilitated questions from both the live and remote audience to the panel to further clarify and critique on tactics and strategies to save Africa’s Congo Basin Rainforests, People and Biodiversity.(10 mins).
    • Part 2 – recommendations for the next decade: This will be a further 15 minutes round of presentation reflecting on ways forward for a stronger role of independent forest  and wildlife monitoring in saving the Congo Basin forests, people and biodiversity. (15 mins).
    • Audience questions to the panel: Facilitated questions from the live and remote audience to further clarify and critique the recommendations for way forward (10 mins).
    • Conclusion: The facilitator will conclude aiming to summarise the recommendations for action drawn both from the Panel and the Audiences Contributions. (5 mins).

    Meet the panel

    Moderator: Prof Philip N Dearden, CIDT – University of Wolverhampton

    Phil has spent his career working on practical development projects working at the intersection of environmental issues and international development. He has worked on many projects/programmes and undertaken capacity development work in over 50 counties.

    Convenor: Prof Aurelian Mbzibain, CIDT – University of Wolverhampton

    Aurelian is a Professor of International Development at the University of Wolverhampton and the Team Lead on Climate, Forests, Agriculture and Wildlife at the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT). His work and research are in forest governance networks, civil society, forest and wildlife monitoring and law enforcement. His recent publications have been in World Development and Forest Policy and Economics.

    Dr Jim Djontu, European Forest Institute

    Jim is a land use and forest governance Expert with the European Forest Institute (EFI). He has over 20 years on experience in the sector and has deep knowledge and understanding of development practices with various institutional donors and agencies. Jim has supported FLEGT and REDD+ processes in several Congo Basin countries. He is and ex-FLEGT/VPA Facilitator for the Republic of Congo.

    Harrison Nnoko, AJESH Cameroon

    Harrison is the Co-founder and CEO of AJESH. He has been very influential in the negotiation and implementation of the FLEGT VPA in Cameroon and was part of the CSO team of experts that analysed Chinese involvement in the forest and natural resources sector in Cameroon and the Congo Basin.

    Dr Alison Hoare, Chatham House

    Alison Hoare is a senior research fellow of Chatham House, with expertise in international forestry policy, forest governance, and natural resource use and trade. She has also conducted research on sustainable investment standards, infrastructure and climate change. She has previously worked with a range of environmental and forestry organisations, undertaking research, policy analysis and project management.

    Lilian Barros, Comptoir Juridique Junior (CJJ)

    Lilian is Permanent Secretary of Comptoir Juridique Junior (CJJ) and Coordinator of the Plateforme pour la Gestion Durable des Forêts (PGDF) in Congo. He is also Project Manager of the EU and FCDO funded PASGOF-SNOIE independent forest monitoring project. Lilian is a lawyer by training with over 15 years of experience in IFM, legal reform and promotion of indigenous peoples’ rights.

    Françoise Van de Ven, International Tropical Timber Technical Association

    Françoise was Chair at UFIGA from 2015-2021. She has worked in Belgium in the wood sector and spent 18 years in DRC, including 8 years as a leader of companies in the timber sector and 9 years as Secretary General of the Federation of timber processing companies (FIB). Her long experience, extensive international network, and knowledge of the countries of the Congo Basin make her a resource person for all stakeholders. She also represents the Timber associations on the Board of Directors of ATIBT.

    Arielle Nkodo, FAO FLEGT Programme

    Arielle is an experienced forest and wildlife engineer with a special focus on tropical forests, community forestry, governance and forest sector policy, and Independent Forest Monitoring focused on the implementation of sustainable forest resource management processes (i.e REDD+, FLEGT and FSC). Through her work in Central Africa, Arielle has gained precious local insight and expertise. She takes special interest in support to local communities’ livelihoods through the sustainable use of forest resources, good forest governance and the fight against illegal logging.

    Sarah Thomas, CIDT – University of Wolverhampton

    Sarah’s work focuses mainly on supporting the organisational development of civil society and community organisations in the forest sector, and strengthening the effectiveness, sustainability and influence of networks and coalitions of Civil Society and non-state actors in governance and policymaking processes. She has worked with partner NGOs and networks across the Congo Basin and has also led civil society capacity development initiatives in SE Asia and Liberia.

    Richard Nyrienda, CIDT – University of Wolverhampton

    Richard’s key work is around researching and delivering interventions that seek to strengthen the capability of non-state actors to effectively engage in national and international policy processes around reducing deforestation and degradation, combatting illegal logging, and promoting the role of forest in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Over the last few years Richard has worked extensive

    Financial Contribution: CIDT will draw on its ongoing FCDO/EU funded grants to support and sponsor reasonable share of the pavilion costs to be agreed with FCDO and COMIFAC. CIDT will also support the participation of Congo Basin partners in case COMIFAC is able to issue accreditation letters and facilitate access to daily access passes to the Blue zone for the events.

    *The assumption being that they are able to gain accreditation with the support of COMIFAC and CBFP and obtain visas in time to travel.

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  • CV4C webinar series: Achievements, reflections and food for thought

    3 March 2021
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    This webinar series took place from place from 22-26 February 2021. This page features all of the video recordings and presentations from the event. Over five days we highlighted the successes and lessons from the Citizen Voice for Change (CV4C) project, which came to a close in December 2020.

    Over 200 people registered to learn how forests in the Congo basin are managed for conservation, nature, economic development and livelihoods.

    The daily webinars focused on what has been accomplished and learnt over four years of the implementation of the Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) Congo Basin Forest Monitoring project, implemented by national civil society organisations in the Congo Basin working in partnership with regional and international partners. Every day a different theme was the focus of experience-sharing from key players involved in collecting information and evidence on logging and forest exploitation in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. Five practitioner panels shared results and lessons from their engagement in strengthening the scope, quality and impact of independent forest monitoring in the Congo Basin.

    Download the programme: English | French

    Theme 1: A means to an end or an end in itself?: The challenges of Organisational Development

    Welcome and opening remarks

    • Overview of the CV4C project, Ella Haruna, CIDT
    • Opening Address, Prof Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton
    • Keynote statement, Thomas Pichet, FCDO FMGC Programme

    Theme 1: A means to an end or an end in itself? The challenges of Organisational Development

    Over the last two decades, Organisational Development (OD) has gradually emerged as the best springboard for ensuring the sustainability of non-state actors, including African civil society organisations. Despite the relative progress of organisational in the Congo Basin over the last ten years, it remains rather marginal, especially for environmental civil society organisations. At the same time, these organisations face many challenges that fundamentally affect their sustainability. To address these challenges, the CV4C project has devoted substantial effort on organisational development, driven by theory of change that more robust and resilient civil society organisations are also more effective in monitoring natural resource choices and policies. This webinar takes the lessons from the project as a starting point for further reflection on three essential components of organisational sustainability: financial sustainability, inclusion and human resource management.

    Teodyl Nkuintchua, Session Chair and Moderator

    Amelie Nkontchou (FODER, Cameroon)
    Sustainable financing of independent monitoring organisations in the Congo Basin: What can be done to make it work?
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Igerha Bampa (OGF, DRC), Laurence Wete Soh (FODER, Cameroon)
    Gender Mainstreaming in independent monitoring organisations in the Congo Basin: Experiences, challenges and lessons learned
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Olivier Meye (Brainforest, Gabon)
    Strategic Planning: from Plan to Action
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Guest speaker: Mireille Kayijamahe (Well Grounded, France)
    Organisational Development in the Congo Basin. Opportunities, challenges reflections from more than 10 years’ experience
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Theme 2: Independent Forest Monitoring: Lessons learned and perspectives on target audiences and data quality

    Since the inception of the CV4C in 2016, CSO members of the consortium have been striving to set up robust quality mechanisms to improve Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) efficiency, efficacy and credibility, in order to enhance transparency and accountability in the fight against illegal logging. These efforts led to the creation and testing of a number of quality assurance instruments at various scales. For example, at organisational level through SNOIE in Cameroon by FODER, and development of internal Quality Management Systems (QMS) in DRC by OGF. A good example of quality on both a national and a regional level by FLAG, and at the international level – the Open Timber Portal by World Resources Institute and FLEGT WATCH by CIDT. These models respond to demands at the start of the project from users of IFM information and various stakeholders, who expressed the need for IFM as an approach to be more standardised, replicable, efficient and credible. From the onset, the project actively sought to address these concerns. The purpose of this webinar session is to share experiences on how the project has responded to these concerns by developing and implementing a number of instruments and tools. The session will focus on the emerging results achieved during the course of the project including the potential for scaling up and embedding the tools and instruments.

    Symphorien Azantsa, Session Chair and Moderator

    Serge Bondo Kayembe (OGF, DRC)
    Setting up the Quality Management System (QMS) and the Open Timber Portal (OTP): Opportunities for improving the quality of the mandated IFM
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Jean Cyrille Owada (FLAG, Cameroon)
    Ability of the innovative Verified Quality Management System (VQM) to strengthen the IM processes
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Angeline Kamden Modgo, Justin Kamga (FODER, Cameroon)
    Quality management of the IFM: The experience of SNOIE
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Achille Djeagou (WRI, DRC)
    The Quality and scope of IFM data for due diligence processes
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Theme 3: Strength in numbers: the power of networks and coalitions of interest

    The CV4C project believes that creating and maintaining strong links between IFM and advocacy nationally and internationally is critical in the face of inertia and a lack of response from officials to ensure that the evidence generated is used by decision- makers for law enforcement. Regional IFM platforms are well-placed to support both national advocacy networks and regional and international advocacy movements through strengthening voice, capacity-building and participation. This theme presents the various ways in which networks within and across the region have supported and acted as vehicles for project activity. This includes national platforms (e.g. RENOI, SNOIE network in Cameroon and the nascent SNOIE network in Congo-Brazzaville) and the role of the regional platform ‘Plateforme Africaine de l’Observation Indépendante’ (PAOI) – or the African independent monitoring platform. The panel will look at the role of networks in building civil society capacity and in advocacy/influencing.

    Stephany Kersten, Session Chair and Moderator

    Essylot LUBALA (OGF, DRC)
    National Network for IFM in the DRC: Challenges and opportunities
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Laurent Yangueta (CIEDD, CAR)
    Synergies between IFM and other State institutions: experience of the Consultation Platform for the fight against environmental crimes
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Serge Moukouri (FLAG, Cameroon)
    Challenges and opportunities facing IFM networks at the regional level: the case of the PAOI
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Theme 4: Closing the circle: Engagement with law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the media

    Independent monitoring is an important instrument for improving forest governance in the Congo Basin for improving forest governance, transparency and the participation of non-state actors, in particular civil society organisations, rural populations and the media in the sustainable management of forests. IFM also has significant potential to contribute to law enforcement. In addition, the actions of IFM in the Congo Basin are increasingly aimed at strengthening synergies between the authorities in charge of law enforcement for an effective fight against illegal forestry. This theme aims to share the experiences of the CV4C project in the engagement of the media as well as the judicial authorities in the monitoring and repression of forest offences. It also draws lessons from the challenges of involving these authorities in identifying possible avenues for solutions.

    Virginie Vergnes, Session Chair and Moderator

    Fiston Mabonzi
    Independent monitoring and influence of the engagement of law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the media: experiences of civil society in the DRC
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Flora Lamero, Rachel Ngo Nwaha, Lore Souhe
    Increasing the role of the media in natural resources governance: Where do we want to go and how? Experiences, lessons and perspectives
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Laurence Wete Soh, Horline Njiké
    Challenges of involving the judiciary in the fight against illegal logging in Cameroon: what are the possible solutions?
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Theme 5: ‘A tale of two illegalities’: Synergies between wildlife protection and forest governance

    The Congo Basin countries grappling with the challenges of forest illegality are equally ill-equipped to respond to the challenges of wildlife trafficking and organised crime. The international wildlife trade includes hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens, estimated at billions of dollars annually. Grand scale illegality in the forest sector, poaching, ivory trade, illegal trade of bush meat and protected species, represent significant threats not only to forests, wildlife and ecosystems, but to regional development and security. Inadequate responses can be linked to a range of factors: inadequate legislation for wildlife offences; lack of recognition of wildlife crime as a priority crime leads to absence of strategic, tactical or operational focus; poor understanding of demand for and actors involved in the trade of illicit wildlife products; and lack of trained staff with the expertise and skills in specialist investigation techniques. This is exacerbated by porous borders and ineffective border controls; inadequate collaboration and information sharing between enforcement agencies; inadequate systems for intelligence gathering, analysis and use; lack of effective cooperation at local/ national/ regional/ international levels in information/intelligence exchange; grand and petty corruption in the agencies, and weak law enforcement management and monitoring capacity. This theme aims at exploring the synergies between wildlife crimes, and forestry crimes in the Congo Basin, from both a legal and a practical perspective. The theme will briefly present the project’s outputs: two Nexus studies from Cameroon and CAR, and a regional legal study.

    Willy Laywer, Session Chair and Moderator

    Samuel Nguiffo
    The judge and the forest in Central Africa: why illegal logging persist and intensifies in the Congo Basin countries?
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Ghislain Fomou
    Review of operational systems to combat illegal logging and wildlife exploitation in Cameroon
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Bienvenu Kemanda-Yogo
    Illegal exploitation of wildlife and timber in CAR: links, origins and purposes
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Closing remarks

    Dr Aurelian Mbzibain (CIDT, University of Wolverhampton)
    Closing address by representative of CV4C project

    Mathieu Auger Schwartzenberg (Task Team Leader, Agence Française de Développement)
    Closing address by representative of development partner

    Prof Philip Dearden (University of Wolverhampton)
    Closing address by representative of the University of Wolverhampton

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